Devon Ferguson
Published by Devon Ferguson
Last Updated On: September 17, 2022

Many smoker options are on the market, but not all smokers are created equal.

As someone who has smoked meat in the backyard for over a decade, I've tried my fair share of smokers.

I'll share my top ten charcoal smokers here so you can choose the best charcoal smoker for your needs.

Editor's Choice
Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker
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#2nd Best Choice
Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
Pit Barrel
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#3rd Best Choice
Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill
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Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker 18"

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker 18" is one of the most versatile and beginner-friendly charcoal smokers on the market.

It is a great smoker for those who want to cook large quantities of smoked foods at once, as it has two cooking grates that can accommodate everything from ribs to brisket.

The smoker also contains a built-in temperature gauge and manual damper control, which makes for easy temperature adjustment. Small and light, the smoker is easy to assemble and store.

A huge bonus is that the fuel door is separate from the lid, allowing me to add wood or charcoal without losing all the heat.

The door is fully removable, which prevents burns and mishaps. These charcoal smokers also feature a porcelain-enameled water pan that is easy to clean.

  • Room for cooking two large items
  • Easy-to-read internal temperature grommet
  • Removable fuel door
  • Easy to store
  • The handle can retain heat after long cooking times

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 41" x 19" x 21"
  • Cooking Space : 481 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Porcelain-enameled metal

Classic Pit Barrel Cooker

The Classic Pit Barrel Cooker is a great drum cooker for those who want to smoke larger items such as briskets and pork shoulders.

This "set it and forget it" cooker that stands provides 8-12 hour cooking times without needing to refuel.

These charcoal smokers come with a grill, hooks, and a stand, making it easy for inexperienced smoking enthusiasts to set up and use.

The setup and cleanup are simple, and the smoker doesn't require much maintenance.

The heavy-duty material means the cooker will have a long lifespan, with some buyers reporting up to 40-50 cooks a year with no visible wear to the smoker.

I particularly appreciate that the hooks let me hang eight racks of ribs or two turkeys.

This amount of meat means I can entertain a large group in the backyard without needing many square inches of cooking space.

  • Massive drum for hanging items
  • Even heat distribution
  • Weather resistant
  • Smaller than average grill grate

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 21″ x 21″ x 32″
  • Cooking Space : 260 square inches within a 30-gallon drum
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Porcelain-coated steel

Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill

The Char-Griller AKORN Kamado is a fuel-efficient smoker known for being highly versatile.

You can use it as a smoker, grill, or even oven, giving you many outdoor cooking options.

These charcoal smokers are made with powder-coated steel and feature triple-wall insulation that keeps heat in and cold out.

You can easily monitor the temperature with the built-in thermostat, and the air dampers allow you to control the amount of airflow. The smoker also has two porcelain-coated cast-iron cooking grates that are easy to clean.

I like that the Kamado comes with a fuel door, ash pan, and side shelves, making it one of the most user-friendly charcoal smokers on the market.

I particularly enjoy that I don't have to get multiple appliances to cook the different foods I want at cookouts.

  • Cast iron, easy-to-clean grates
  • Holds low and high temperatures easily
  • Fuel efficient
  • Requires extra care in the elements

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 31" x 45" x 47"
  • Cooking Space : 447 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Wood or Charcoal
  • Material : Ceramic-Coated Steel

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

The Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is a reasonable option for those looking for an affordable and beginner-friendly grill.

This is one of the most popular grills on the market, and Weber is a trusted brand name for buyers.

Though primarily designed as a straight-up grill, it can be used as a low-n'-slow cooker and excels at both of those options.

Additionally, these charcoal smokers are made from high-quality porcelain-enameled metal that will make them last for many years.

I appreciate that the grill has a built-in temperature gauge to make smoking easier and legs that fold in for easy storage. Further, the lid can hang on the side of the grill while you're cooking, which is very helpful.

  • Classic design with updated features
  • Lightweight design
  • Dependable and sturdy
  • Ash catcher makes for easy cleanup
  • Smaller than the average cooking area

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 39.5"x 22.5"x 27"
  • Cooking Space : 363 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Porcelain-enameled steel

Masterbuilt Gravity 800 Series Griddle Smoker

The Masterbuilt Gravity 800 Series Griddle Smoker is a unique smoker that uses gravity to feed charcoal into the smoker, making it super easy to use.

It also has a large griddle top that you can use for cooking and multiple smoker racks that yield many square inches of cooking space.

For high-tech charcoal grilling and smoking enthusiasts, its WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled temperature control will help fine-tune their smoking even when they are not next to the unit.

The charcoal chimney starter makes it easy to reach the proper cooking temperature quickly.

The digital automation of the gravity feeder makes for an easy smoking experience, and I really enjoy the versatility of using it as a cabinet-style charcoal smoker or a grill.

This is an excellent option for a techie griller because of its control and safety features.

  • Two large cooking grates
  • WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled digital controls
  • Gravity-fed charcoal makes for easy cooking
  • Challenging to assemble

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 55" x 31" x 51"
  • Cooking Space : 800 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Iron

Dyna Glo Signature Heavy Duty Vertical Smoker

The Dyna Glo Signature Heavy Duty Vertical Smoker has a design that maximizes smoking space.

It's a budget-friendly option for those that want a more heavy gauge metal smoker.

These vertical charcoal smokers have three chrome-plated grill racks that provide ample space for smoking meat.

This vertical smoker is easy to move on its two oversized wheels despite its large cooking area.

The charcoal management system handles large amounts of ash, so you get hours of refueling-free cooking.

I like that the spring-like door handle allows you to check on your food needing a glove or burning your hand, and the installed temperature gauge is very accurate.

This vertical charcoal smoker is good for those with a smaller backyard and needs a compact option.

  • Large wheels allow for easy moveability
  • Sturdy material
  • Lets you manage ash quickly and infrequently
  • Slightly thinner walls than other options

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 27" x 23" x 44"
  • Cooking Space : 681 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Steel

Charbroil Bullet Charcoal Smoker

The Charbroil Bullet Charcoal Smoker is a good smoker for those on a budget. It's small and compact, making it the perfect size for smaller yards or balconies.

The smoker holds temperatures for hours, so you don't have to worry about manipulating the door too often to refuel.

These charcoal smokers have a cleanable, removable ash pan that makes emptying very simple.

They also are made of sturdy porcelain-coated wall construction that lets you cook regularly without fear of burn-through.

This Bullet has a fire access door that tightly seals the smoke chamber.

I appreciate that these charcoal smokers have an airflow control system with numbers on the dampers.

I find this simplifies temperature regulation and allows me to reproduce temperature levels from one smoking session to another.

  • Easy assembly
  • A large access door
  • Holds temperatures for hours
  • Smaller capacity than other cookers

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 21" x 23" x 37"
  • Cooking Space : 370 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Porcelain-Coated Steel

Kamado Joe Jr. Charcoal Grill

The Kamado Joe Jr. Charcoal Grill is a good choice for people that want a grill that saves fuel and keeps a constant temperature.

Kamado grills are made of thick ceramic walls that hold in heat and moisture, giving your food that perfect smoke ring every time.

These charcoal smokers also have a cast iron top vent that gives you complete control over the grill's temperature.

Though smaller than some of Kamado Joe's other products, it is able to smoke a full pork butt or a couple of chickens.

I do love that these charcoal smokers are so fuel efficient. I can use three or four handfuls of charcoal and not have to refuel for eight hours.

And at the end of my smoke, a handy slide-out ash drawer makes it easy to clean up.

  • Wide temperature range
  • Thick quality ceramic
  • Simple to set up and use
  • Smaller capacity

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 20" x 21" x 27"
  • Cooking Space : 150 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Ceramic and Stainless Steel

Oklahoma Joe's Bronco Drum Smoker

The Oklahoma Joe's Bronco Drum smoker is a good choice for those who want quality and durability.

It's made of heavy-duty steel that can take a beating and has a porcelain-coated cooking surface that is easy to clean.

These charcoal smokers also have an ash pan that you can easily remove with a single hand.

Its oversize charcoal basket lets you smoke for hours without needing to add more lump or briquette charcoal.

“I prefer lump charcoal over briquettes, but I do use both for different reasons and different recipes, and sometimes I combine them both when I really want the woodsy aroma from the lump charcoal and long, even heat from the briquettes.”
- Bobby Flay, Chef

And when hanging meat in the drum, the Bronco smoker's size is perfect for those who want to smoke large cuts of beef or multiple racks of ribs.

I appreciate how easy it is to move the smoker around the backyard with its large wheels.

This sets these charcoal smokers apart from most drum smokers, which are notoriously challenging to move. It also comes with a rubberized handle grip that stays cool.

  • Unique airflow control system for perfect temperature
  • Wheels for easy moving
  • Oversize charcoal basket for all-day smoking
  • Challenging to add charcoal while cooking

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 30" x 25" x 43"
  • Cooking Surface : 284 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Porcelain and steel

Royal Gourmet 30" Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker

The Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill with Offset Smoker is a solid smoker for those who want large capacity without breaking the bank.

It has a design that allows you to grill some meat while simultaneously smoking other food.

The two-level, adjustable charcoal pan gives you complete control over the heat, and the easy-to-read thermometer lets you judge when your food is cooking at the correct temperature.

The excellent temperature control in the cooking chamber is thanks to the separate firebox that houses the charcoal. You can also use wood chips in the firebox to add smoky flavor to your food.

One of my favorite features of this offset smoker is the large workspace in front of the grill. It gives me lots of working space for tools, accessories, plates, and more.

There is also a bottom shelf where I can store seasonings and other grilling items.

  • Adjustable charcoal pan for temperature maintenance
  • Extensive cooking and prep space
  • Two-in-one function for a budget price
  • Thin metal sides for an offset charcoal smoker

Quick Facts:

  • Product Dimensions : 46" x 28" x 49"
  • Cooking Surface : 811 square inches
  • Fuel Type : Charcoal
  • Material : Steel

Buyer's Guide

When purchasing a charcoal smoker, there are several factors you need to consider in order to find the best one for your needs.

Below, we will go over those factors so you can make an informed decision.

1. Capacity

A smoker that is open and has meats inside

The smoker's capacity is essential because it will dictate how much food you can cook at one time.

If you plan on smoking oversized cuts of meat or multiple racks of ribs, then you will need a serious smoker with more square inches of cooking space.

However, if you only plan on smoking small amounts of meat, then you can get away with a smaller smoker.

2. Size

The physical size of the smoker is also important to consider. You don't want a huge smoker if you have a small backyard or storage space.

However, if you have a large backyard, then you can get away with larger charcoal smokers.

3. Fuel Type

Charcoal smokers can use either lump charcoal or briquettes.

Lump charcoal is made from natural wood and burns hotter and cleaner than briquettes. 

Briquettes are made from sawdust and other materials, and they burn slower and produce more smoke in charcoal smokers.

4. Material

The smoker's outer material will dictate how long it will last and how well it will hold up to the elements.

Charcoal smokers made from stainless steel or powder-coated steel are the most durable, while other smokers made from porcelain or enamel can chip and crack over time.

5. Style

An open vertical smoker

Various smoker styles offer different benefits. For example, a charcoal grill-smoker combo provides unmatched versatility for charcoal barbecues.

Offset smokers allow you to smoke at lower temperatures than other charcoal smokers because the charcoal fire is not directly under the meat.

Vertical smokers and cabinet smokers give you lots of smoking in a small space, whereas kamado smokers and bullet smokers are known by serious smokers for maintaining temperature without needing much fuel.

6. Price

The price of the smoker is another vital consideration. Charcoal smokers range in price from around $120 to over $1,000, so it's crucial to find one that fits your budget.

That said, pricier charcoal smokers often come with more features and better build quality.

Who Should Use a Charcoal Smoker?

People who want to add delicious smoky flavor to their food and want to cook big cuts of meat or multiple birds should use a charcoal smoker.

If you enjoy slow cooking your food for hours or even overnight, charcoal smokers will allow you to tend your meat in the traditional way, basting it with your favorite sauces and rubs.

Who Shouldn't Use a Charcoal Smoker?

A person tending a fire

People who only smoke occasionally or don't have the time to tend their fire should not use a charcoal smoker.

Charcoal smokers also require a bit more effort to set up and use than smokers fueled by electricity and wood chips or one that uses wood pellets.

And if you are looking for a smoker that is easy to use and doesn't require much attention, then most charcoal smokers may not be the right choice for you.

Finally, a charcoal smoker is not the best option if you are looking for a smoker that does not require cleaning.

Charcoal smokers can be challenging to maintain. This is due to the nature of charcoal and its interaction with the metal walls of these smokers.

Related Articles:


Can You Add Wood to a Charcoal Smoker?

Yes, you can add wood to a charcoal smoker. In some ways, this is the best of all worlds. Wood will flavor the food you are smoking, while charcoal offers a steady and sustainable heat [1].

What Is the Difference Between a Charcoal Grill and a Charcoal Smoker?

The difference between a charcoal grill and a charcoal smoker is that a charcoal grill is designed for cooking food quickly over high heat, while a charcoal smoker is designed for smoking food slowly over low heat.

What Is the Best Way to Clean a Charcoal Smoker?

The best way to clean a charcoal smoker is to empty the ashes after each use.

You should wipe off spilled marinades and sauces and scrub the inside of the smoker with a stiff brush. Finally, buff out rust spots and season them with high-temperature cooking oil.

It is essential to avoid using abrasives or harsh chemicals, as these can damage the smoker.

Can You Use Regular Charcoal in a Smoker?

Yes, you can use regular charcoal in a smoker. Charcoal briquettes will burn more consistently and slower than lump charcoal because briquettes are a composite, manufactured product.

The Best Charcoal Smokers - Our Top Pick

After thoroughly evaluating all of the charcoal smokers on this list, my top recommendation is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker.

It has a large cooking area with two grills, which is perfect for entertaining or smoking for a large family or gathering. Additionally, the smoker is easy to use and doesn't require much experience to get an ideal smoke.

Weber is a trusted brand with a fantastic online community of users with great advice for beginners or experts. Check out the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker today.

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker 18"

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Room for cooking two large items
  • Easy-to-read internal temperature grommet
  • Removable fuel door
  • Easy to store
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of September

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